Gut health information has exploded in recent years, thanks to an increase in research on the gut microbiome. Through emerging evidence we are beginning to understand the role that this amazing ecosystem plays in the development of many health conditions, from mood to inflammation.
Our gut bacteria can even determine whether we develop irritable bowel syndrome. Pretty amazing.
Q. What is the gut microbiome?
The term microbiome refers to the genetic material of the trillions of microorganisms that live on, and in us. Consider our gut microbiome as an internal garden, where it relies on lots of different organisms to live together. If there are not enough beneficial organisms, the environment will not thrive.
Of all the organisms present, bacteria is the most abundant in out gut. Therefore, the type of bacteria present will determine the overall impact on health.
Q. What can influence the gut microbiome?
- Birth mode – natural delivery vs caesarean section
- Breastfeeding or formula feeding
- Some medications
- Stressful events
- External environment, pollution
- Food eaten
- Viruses and parasites
How to have a healthy gut?
Our gut bacteria is fully developed by age three. For this reason, a variety of plant-based and fibre-rich foods is recommended. This will ensure a diverse microbiome in children.
Top three tips for a a healthy gut
- Eat widely – microorganisms are found in abundance in plant based foods. Try to include seeds, nuts, fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole-grains in your diet everyday. Dietary fibre contained in these foods feed the bacteria. Therefore, the more variety, the better the meal is for your gut.
- Manage stress – chronic stress is not good for some strains of bacteria, which can allow other strains to thrive. As a result, the gut-brain-axis can be unbalanced. Try to find activities that keep you (and your gut) calm.
- Monitor intake of sweetened soft drinks and artificial sweeteners. Drinking too many of these drinks can impact your gut bacteria poorly.